Doorbells at Dusk, edited by Evans Light, Corpus Press, 2018, 280 pages.
Released just in time for Halloween, Doorbells at Dusk presents fourteen varied tales of seasonal horror. These range from the gory to the atmospheric. I have a piece in this anthology but will mainly focus on other stories.
My piece is called “A Plague of Monsters.” I wanted to keep the reader guessing as to the source of the “monsters” until pretty far along in the story. I hope it worked. I definitely had a lot of fun writing the story. It’s a kind of ode to the many SF/horror tales and movies that I’ve enjoyed in my life.
Next up we have “The Rye-Mother” (great title) by Curtis M. Lawson. An eerie tale, very atmospheric. What lies at the heart of the corn maze on Halloween? Young David decides to find out.
Amber Fallon is next with “The Day of the Dead.” There’s a cool twist here with the role that costumes play in the tale. I certainly didn’t predict the kicker at the end.
“Rusty Husk,” by Evans Light is next. Another great title. This one ups the gore content of the collection. Rusty enjoys Halloween a little too much but he’s soon to learn the true meaning of the holiday.
“Adam’s Bed,” by Josh Malerman follows. Ronnie is a dad, and he loves his kid, although he loves his party lifestyle at least as much. What he doesn’t love is the presence under his son’s bed.
Jason Parent is next with “Keeping up Appearances.” They chose the richest looking houses to rob. And everything went smoothly. Until they picked the wrong house.
Chad Lutzke gives us “Vigil.” Different folks are probably going to have different favorites in a collection like Doorbells at Dusk. “Vigil” was one of mine from the collection. This tale is absolutely realistic, and maybe that’s why it creeped me out so much. I could easily put myself into the narrator’s shoes.
Gregor Xane gives us “Mr. Impossible.” A fun block party takes a turn for the worse. The last half of the story is visceral and relentless.
Ian Welke gives us “Between,” one of the atmospheric tales in the collection. The main character, Yolanda, has a fascination with mathematical forms, and with hallucinogenics. Definitely a character driven story.
“The Friendly Man” by Thomas Vaughn is up next, and I’m going to give this one a slight edge as my favorite piece in the collection. Gory for sure, but with a real underlying creep factor. The ending kept me thinking about the story long after it was over.
Sean Eads and Joshua Viola are up next with “Many Carvings,” (another great title.) Another atmospheric tale. Full of creepiness. If you raise an army of children to do your bidding, what happens when they take the reins in their own hands?
“Trick ‘em All,” by Adam Light is next. Travis is relegated by his parents to manning the candy dish for Halloween. He has other plans, and it begins with carving a secret pumpkin, a pumpkin with a secret of its own. Really strong ending to this one.
“Offerings,” by Joanna Koch is up next. This one is just fantastically creepy. All of us adults know how strange little children can be. We were like that when we were children. But the kids in this story have a little more strangeness than most.
The final story in the anthology is “Masks,” by Lisa Lepovetsky. No one can leave the party until the last guest arrives. That’s when the fun begins! I thought this was a good strong choice to end the anthology with.
Each of the stories in Doorbells at Dusk offered an interesting take on the horrors of Halloween. I read one story a day and was thus able to really milk each one for all it had to offer. I recommend that process to you as well, and I don’t believe you’ll be disappointed in Doorbells at Dusk.